A sales career is unlike any other. It’s competitive, there’s always room for growth, and you can create a great living even if you only have a few years of experience. Plus, the space is only going to get bigger: The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the sales representative profession to grow 15.6 percent by 2020.

However, it takes a certain person to succeed in a sales career. It’s not for the faint hearted or the timid. It takes tenacity, guts, and the belief that you can make success happen, sometimes without help at all.

If you’re considering a sales career, you must have what it takes to make it. Not sure if you’ve got it? Check out these four traits you need to have to succeed:


It takes a special sort of person, with a commitment to the sales process, to create success. So, one of the traits you must have as a sales professional is persistence for your craft. For example, you may get shut down or get doors slammed in your face. However, persistence is the belief that if you talk to a certain number of people, the doors will slowly open. It may take awhile for you to get there, but after you establish credibility and present your knowledge in a persuasive way, those no’s will turn to yes’s.

Tip: Keep a running tab of common objections and study them thoroughly. That way, you can understand why potential customers are hesitant and come up with responses to help get them on board.

Listening skills

Each prospect, each customer is an individual with their own problems and needs. You can’t sell them anything until you’ve heard what those needs are. The ability to get a customer talking by using questions and listening to their problems is how you’re going to connect with them. Plus, when you stop being a salesperson and start understanding their needs and pain points, you can navigate through the sales process more smoothly. Sometimes they need a lot of guidance; other times they don’t need anything — but they will likely call you when they do.

Tip: Do your research beforehand. If a lead is known to be particularly difficult, find out why, as well as how you can circle around their objections. The more prepared you are, the better.

Product knowledge

To be successful in any kind of sales, you need to understand what you’re selling. Whether it’s medical devices, financial services, or office supplies, ample product knowledge is vital. For example, imagine how a physician might react to a pharmaceutical rep who didn’t know the history of the product, wasn’t aware of price points, and was unclear about the potential side effects? He’d be unlikely to prescribe, right? So, it’s important for you to do your homework before every meeting, and present your case from a well-informed place.

Tip: Always stay updated when it comes to your niche. Products are always changing, patents are constantly being approved, and the needs of your customers can change. By staying on top of the market, you stay ahead of the competition and can serve your audience better.


Most salespeople are driven by competition. There’s a reason companies publish ranking reports on how each team member is performing. Nobody wants to be last, so they tend to work harder and longer to ensure they’re not. But even good salespeople have off months or quarters. Though it’s easy to feel down, you need to have the confidence and the tenacity to keep moving forward.

But it’s not just the competition with peers that can be tough on self-esteem; bouncing back from repeated rejections is obviously difficult too. However, you have to improve your skills, hone your techniques, and be a little more competitive in your tactics. You can’t just be motivated by money or the perks of a sales job — you have to want to sell more than anyone else without a personal agenda. That’s what makes a good salesperson and that’s what creates success.

Tip: If you are having confidence issues, try talking to an established industry member or take some courses which will sharpen your skills. When you know you can do the job well, it will reflect in your performance.

Success in a sales career may not be easy, but it does come with some major benefits. Being persistent, having great listening skills, knowing your product, and creating confidence are all ways you can be a better, more informed salesperson who understands their strengths and uses them to seal the deal.

What do you think? What are some other was to create success in a sales career?